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[CELEBRATING VIETNAMESE TEACHER'S DAY] A conversation with Mrs. Le Thi Thanh Huyen: The diligent "ferry woman" with a mission to spread the beauty of Literature.

Post by: webams | 25/11/2023 | 229 reads

Basking in the effervescent atmosphere of the approaching Vietnamese Teacher’s Day on November 20th, we might also find ourselves chancing upon sincere words, hearts swelling with gratitude and the sweet emotions between students and their beloved "ferry rower". Amid such exhilaration, Ams Wide Web had the opportunity to listen to the small snippets and heartfelt remarks from Mrs Le Thi Thanh Huyen, a teacher of Literature. Thanks to her heartfelt discussions, we gain a fresh insight into the precious little things that have strengthened her resolve in the journey alongside blackboards and white chalks. 

Interviewer: First of all, on behalf of Ams Wide Web Club, thank you for accepting our interview. To begin with, how long have you been working in education, and what has been motivating you through the countless challenges and pressures in the profession?

Mrs. Huyen: I started teaching a year after my university graduation, which makes it fifteen years. Truth be told, I have no liking for the phrase ‘challenges and pressures in the profession’ because that sounds much too daunting, while in fact there exists no jobs without challenges and without pressures. And instead of talking about motivators, I’d prefer speaking about the joys of teaching in general and teaching Literature in particular. In my view, there are three things that make this job still worth it until this day: purity, maturity and beauty. In teaching children, teachers themselves come into contact with the purity in their pupils, for come what may, school is still a pure and pristine place, where untainted dreams live. Teaching is also a process of getting to witness the various extents of maturity in your own students, akin to the joy of the gardener witnessing the earliest blooms. And ultimately, Literature, the subject I’m teaching, is all about beauty. Teaching and learning about Literature is coming into contact with beauty in its purest form. Those three reasons are the things that keep me and my colleagues standing on the classroom platform and meeting up with our students.

A joyful Mrs Le Thi Thanh Huyen beside a dazzling bouquet

Interviewer: Your lectures are always full of avidity and fervour, so can you tell us more about all the things that have helped you sustain the fire of passion for the subject of Literature?

Mrs Huyen: A lot of reasons help me persevere with the job of teaching Literature, but perhaps the students play the most important role. It is the Amsers themselves who drive me to prepare, interact and work creatively with the lessons. Indeed, our school is already well known for its dynamism and creativity. I’ve had the opportunity to teach and work with intelligent, curious, independent yet humble students. Some of them have astounded me with their profound insights on beauty, art and life. They have actively analyzed countless works of poetry, literature, cinema,...beyond the curricular constraints before, and when studying with me. Lots of students still stay in touch with me later on, and it is simply amazing that a fair number of them have chosen the path of art, literature, and creativity.  I can sense my connection with them, and that’s an inspiration for me to continue in my work.

Interviewer: After your extremely carefully and carefully prepared lectures, what do you most hope your students will receive in return?

Mrs Huyen: My greatest wish is for them to enjoy, to various extents, the moments of dreaminess and allure that makes Literature so meaningful. Reading and studying Literature means you can live thousands of lives and face thousands of fates in the pages of books. Literature lets you dream and be free, yet it also leaves you humbled and sympathetic to the lives around you. I have had such brilliant moments with my teachers, and so I wish my own students would have the same experience.

Mrs Huyen and her colleagues in the school campus

Interviewer: Now that November 20th is drawing nearer and nearer, can you share with us a memory or the most memorable gift you have ever received?

Mrs Huyen: Memories and meaningful gifts are plentiful. But I’d like to talk about the most recent gift I’ve received. The special thing about it is that this isn’t a gift, and not for the occasion of November 20th. It’s actually a message I received from an old student of mine, a natural science major, whom I taught in my first year at Ams. We hadn’t spoken to each other in ten years, and yet he texted me right on the day Hanoi turned cold. He said he had just read the book Gió lạnh đầu mùa (Early Winter Gales) by Thach Lam, with a remark that goes, ‘Why do I find it so sad that it pierces my heart?’ A message sent in the early morning touched me so, for not only was it because of the student remembering me, but it was also because of the way he read and shared a work of literature. I feel warmth all over remembering about this, and it strengthens my belief that somehow, the job of teaching isn’t so hopeless - somehow, it still sparks love for beauty and compassion between human and human. Once again, I’d like to send my thanks for that beautiful gift alongside many, many more simple memories that I have received from my beloved students. 

Lovely Ms. Huyen with her close students

Interviewer: And last but not least, certainly you have received countless well wishes from your students. Do you have any words you would like to say to yourself?

Mrs Huyen: I’d like to dedicate two wishes, not only for myself but also to all the colleagues embarking on the same journey as me. First, I wish us all health. Only with health can our spirits remain youthful and creative. Secondly, I wish us all meaningful relationships and communities so none shall suffer from loneliness, so everyone shall have companions in their journey to realise their own dreams.

Interviewer: Once again, I sincerely thank you for extremely profound and touching insights. On behalf of all students from Hanoi - Amsterdam High School for the Gifted, I’d like to wish you a happy, healthy November 20th, and I wish you health so that you may persevere on your journey of steering the boat of knowledge!

The job of our beloved ferry rower always comes with noble, sacred and esteemable responsibilities. For this very reason, on the occasion of Vietnamese Teacher’s Day, AWW’s Editorial Board would like to send our deepest gratitude to all the teachers working day and night on the blackboards and the lesson plans so as to deliver heartfelt and meticulous lectures. We wish all teachers a lot of luck and joy in their work, so they can continue to pass on the fire of passion to future generations of students!

Author: Đặng Nguyên Trang - Literature (‘23 - ‘26)

Interpreter: Dương Minh Uyên - English (‘23 - ‘26) 

Photos: Provided by the interviewee